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Community members voice concerns following rally sparked by video

Community members voice their concerns following rally sparked by viral video

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - People are still talking about a rally sparked by a viral TikTok video that shows a woman speaking to construction worker on Saturday morning.

Jeanne Umana voiced her regrets, saying she was upset about the way he drove up and parked near a construction site.

Luis Cervantes used his cell phone to record her calling him a Tijuanan, and falsely saying she worked for the police, before knocking the phone out of his hand.

Santa Barbara City Council members got an earful about the situation during public comments.

"What happened on Sunday night in our neighborhood, in my opinion and our neighborhood's opinion was really unacceptable," said Melissa Quigley, "We were absolutely terrified and I was petrified."

"Recent events have shaken the very core of our peaceful neighborhood." said Irene Martinez, "On the night of September 17th our community was subjected to chaos and terror initiated by an outsider with no regard to our city's values."

Martinez called out activist Edin Alex Enamorado who spoke at the rally.

"Edin, an online influencer, with a substantial following, saw to agitate, rather than create meaningful change."

She said what began as a complaint against racist comments by a former UCSB lecturer turned into a focus on unlicensed food vendors.

"While those concerns are valid, we must be cautious when allowed out-of-town unlicensed vendors threaten our local businesses, we must protect the unique identity of our beloved Santa Barbara," said Martinez.

She also talked about the fireworks near Garden Street and Micheltorena where people stood on all corners.

"Explosives, burnouts and alcohol use by some protestors undermined their cause."

Although there is no direct link between the video and street vendors, activist Elin Enamorado considers the video and the city's handling of vendor as racism.

He called into the Santa Barbara City Council meeting from Los Angeles and accused the police of "tone policing," and said, "Santa Barbara has violated SB 972 by filing charges against street vendors."

He also accused Oscar Gutierrez of attacking vendors, something the councilman denies.

Gutierrez said he has only tried to help them with permitting that the city tried to streamline.

After the council meeting, Gutierrez, who does not represent the downtown neighborhood where the rally occurred, said he showed up at the rally after being told they were calling his name.

"I support people freedom of speech and expression, you know, and I felt the police have been getting kind of criticized for the way they handled it," said Gutierrez, "I wouldn't have shown up if I didn't feel safe myself."

He tried to de-escalate the situation.

The crowd that walked to the police station and back dispersed before 11 p.m. without anyone getting hurt.

When Enamorado spoke virtually to the council he accused the woman in the video of a hate crime, of assault, breaking and entering, impersonating a police officer.

She has not been charged.

On Tuesday afternoon she said via instant message, "Unwittingly, I lit a match here that started a conflagration."

She also said immigration is a hot button issue.

Since the video went viral, she has been threatened and has apologized on video and in the press.

"I have brought a burden on an overburdened police department which is handling this with the utmost discretion. I offended someone I do not even know, provoked by what I perceived as unsafe driving. I subjected myself to unnecessary stress on my health and well-being, but...hopefully some good will come out of it. Santa Barbara is not immune to issues affecting a state, a nation, a world."

Police Chief Kelly Gordon also reacted to the public comments made today about the situation:

“We were closely monitoring the situation on Sunday night and understand there are some community concerns about our response.  The Santa Barbara Police Department respects the rights of people to peaceably assemble. Lawful, constitutionally protected actions and speech often co-exists with civil disobedience.

The difficult part of any situation such as occurred Sunday night is distinguishing between the majority of individuals exercising their rights verse the few individuals or even one person who creates civil disobedience by doing such things as lighting off fireworks. It was imperative that the Santa Barbara Police Department’s actions were measured and didn’t inflame the conflict. Our strategies and tactics included active and direct monitoring to identify those individuals committing criminal acts and reacting proportionally, while continuing to balance all concerns.

Active efforts were made to persuade the participants to disperse of their own accord, and Officers were present in the locations and continually balanced the situation to maintain it from escalating. The Police Department was prepared to give formal warning and advisement, as required by law, prior to public safety actions related to assemblies in response to crowd dynamics if they had not dispersed.

We realize it was extremely difficult and unsettling that power was out in several locations during this time and maintained presence in the area throughout the power outage and evening. This incident continues to be under investigation, and we will work diligently to maintain safety for all.”

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here


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